Gary Vaynerchuk was in Tampa tonight speaking about Crush It, his new book. He talked about branding your business via online marketing, which is what has made him famous. (On Wine Library TV).
Gary started in retail at the age of 6 with lemonade stands. That’s right: plural. He had others working for him over the summer. He understood early that business is about eyeballs.
We agree on 2 points: (1) Storytelling is the key to business. (2) Social media is just a marketing tool like the printing press. It isn’t about the tool; it’s all about the story to the market.
Gary says that if you don’t get Twitter or Facebook, get over it because millions are using it. That’s where the eyeballs are, so you better be there. But doing what? It isn’t about Talking. It’s about Listening. (Which btw is a huge lesson in sales. Two ears, one mouth; listen twice as much as you talk
Too many businesses draw a line in the sand. You have to see trends and go with the flow. “Business is a game of change.” If billions are on FB – but more important, if your target market is on FB or Twitter – then you need to be there to. Listening, engaging, telling your story. The World Wrestling Entertainment is about storytelling. Disney and Pixar are all about stories. Branding is about the story that the consumer has heard about your brand – the sum total of story, experience, WOM (word-of-mouth), and emotional tag. How you feel about Dunkin Donuts or Nike is the branding.
Another point he made has been made by Seth Godin: You have to know what business you are in. During Q&A (which was half the night), Gary kept asking people these questions:
- Who are you?
- What are you selling?
- What’s your story?
- Where are you going?
- What are your expectations?
- What do you expect to happen?
- What do you want to happen?
His answer to most questions was Content. That translates into Personal Branding online. Buy the domain yourname.com. Start a blog. Video, audio, text – doesn’t matter. Start producing content (and stories) about what you are passionate about, what you have knowledge about. But do it in your own voice. This is your online presence, your home on the Internet – just 15 years old but changing everything everyday.
He spoke over and again about Transparency. Basically, be authentic, because if you aren’t, you will be caught and outed. In a similar vein, remember that everything is recorded for posterity today. Cameras are everywhere. Everything you put online is permanent. If you aren’t authentic, it will come out.
When it comes to What are you selling, be Honest with yourself. It’s okay for it to be about the Benjamins. Just make certain that you know what you want and expect, so that you know where you are headed.
Gary Vee’s BHAG is to own the NY Jets. It’s what guides his actions. Having a seven month old child may have changed that just a little bit. He’s all about “Crushing It” – working smart and hard. He works 19 hours per day. (He is cutting back to 15 now). What’s yours? What guides your business decisions? What is your Goal or Vision that keeps you motivated? (It’s a key part of the equation).
Note: Lack of self-esteem and laziness is destroying business value.
Gary mentioned that WOM converts to a sale 70% of the time. Advertising converts 12%. Today, with online personal branding your job is to create fans, who will spread the word (re-tell your story) about your business to prospects, who will become customers.
We are becoming more connected and more documented every day. So the days of chasing the quick cash might be coming to an end.
Gary thinks the Wal-Mart Era is almost over and it will become the Niche Era. We will win next. Oops! There will be 2000 to 8000 of Yoga Chicks in your area. You better have the skills and the work ethic to beat them. YOU are the Differentiating factor.
Here’s why Gary thinks the Zappos story is so important: because it is the story about how Culture and Service won (not price). Zappos cost more than other online shoes stores, but the Culture was to make the customer happy. That won out (when its competitor, Amazon bought Zappos for $1B)
The other thing to notice is that customers are going through an Expectation Shift. Instant Customer Service will be expected or you will become a commodity (and lowest price will win).
BTW, that social media thing? It takes time to work, so be patient.
UPDATE: Fellow Tampa blogger, Deana Goldasich, has a great write-up about the Gary Vee talk here.